Film Review: Melodrama Weakens Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Country Strong’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Modern country music is actually quite fascinating. Whereas in the classic days of the 1950s to ‘70s, when it was a cult stepchild of popular music, now it occupies the rarified heights of the Justins and Taylors. That is why “Country Strong,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow, is so annoying. It doesn’t even try to be modern. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

What is wrong with an exploration of modern marketing, pop music co-opting and celebrity worship that accompanies the post millennial pickers of C&W? Why the silly retread of what is essentially an “All About Eve” story – big country star out of rehab trying to resuscitate her career while young ingenue steps in? With its old fashioned melodrama, it fails to connect.

Kelly Canter (Paltrow) is the country mega-star in rehab, after losing a pregnancy when she fell on stage (and her blood alcohol was 1.9…a TMI harshness that didn’t need mentioning). Her “sponsor” in the clinic is Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), an up-and-coming country boy who plays Nashville honky-tonks straight out of a tourist brochure. Canter’s husband is James (Tim McGraw), who maintains the ambition of his wife’s popularity, even taking her out of the clinic before her stint is over.

Meanwhile, in a wild coincidence, Beau is playing the same club as Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester), an ex-beauty queen taking a stab at the country game. She has tremendous stage fright, and freezes because she knows that James Canter is in the audience, looking for an opening act for Kelly’s comeback tour. Beau helps her out and they kill, so James suggests they become a duet and join the show. The tour rolls on.

It is revealed that Kelly and Beau were lovers. It is revealed that James has a thing for Chiles. It is revealed that Chiles reveals herself (in a bra and panty set straight from Junior Miss) to Beau. Will these triangles begin to straighten themselves, so Kelly can stay sober and on tour? Have you ever listened to a country song?

“Country Strong” opens everywhere January 7th. Featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester. Written and by directed by Shana Feste. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Country Strong”

Kelly in the Pickler: Gwyneth Paltrow (Kelly) and Tim McGraw (James) in ‘Country Strong’
Kelly in the Pickler: Gwyneth Paltrow (Kelly) and Tim McGraw (James) in ‘Country Strong’
Photo Credit: Scott Garfield for © Screen Gems

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Country Strong”

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Little Women: The Musical

    CHICAGO – The story of “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott, has been an American institution since its publication in 1869. The story of four girls-to-little-women during the American Civil War, with their indomitable mother holding down the household while their father is away in the war, was a perfect candidate to become a Broadway musical. The Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo) is currently presenting a brilliant adaptation of that musical for the storefront stage, and its emotion, music craft and energy is nothing sort of a triumph… this small theater company that could does it again. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the The Strawdog Theatre in Chicago through February 9th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions